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In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray

Hotel opens in Denver station


Date: 01-Aug-2014

The Great Hall at Denver’s Union Station serves as the main lobby of a new hotel which has just opened there. The 112 room Crawford occupies the upper floors of the north and south wings of the building, which opened originally in 1881 and is undergoing a major transformation, including the opening of restaurants from which guests may order via room service. A rail link between the station and Denver International Airport is scheduled to open in 2016.
 

Denver Union Station

Ride India’s little trains on new tour


Date: 31-Jul-2014

A new tour enabling customers to ride India’s last remaining 2ft gauge railways has been introduced by train holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel. The 20 day trip takes in The Neral to Matheran line near Mumbai, the Scindia State Railway at Gwalior and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Other train travel is also included. Departure will be on January 10 next winter. The price, including flights, is £4350 person based on two sharing.
 

India by rail

Berlin flights for Birmingham


Date: 30-Jul-2014

Birmingham will get a new link with Berlin when FlyBe launches flights to the German capital’s Tegel airport on October 26. The airline will operate five round trips a week, on Mondays. Tuesdays, Thursdays. Fridays and Sundays. On the same date FlyBe will start flying between Birmingham and Aberdeen. It recently announced it would fill the vacuum threatened between London City and Aberdeen route following British Airways’ decision to withdraw from the route at the end of summer.
 

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Washington - new airport link opens


Date: 29-Jul-2014

A new transport link had opened between Washington’s Dulles airport and downtown. Launch of the new Silver Line Metrorail service enables travellers to take the train to or from Wiehle-Reston East – one of five new stations on a new network extension – and complete the journey by shuttle bus. Buses depart every six minutes during the rush hours and every 12 – 20 minutes at other times. It costs $11 – or less if you board or disembark at an intermediate station. A taxi could cost you around $50. In four years time trains are scheduled to run all the way to the airport.

 

Washington DC

Tougher rules for cruise ship smokers


Date: 24-Jul-2014

Smoking bans continue to be toughened on cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line is the latest to prohibit it on stateroom balconies. The ban will take effect on November 1. The company will also only allow smoking on the starboard side of The Waterfront aboard two ships – Norwegian Getaway and Breakaway – and even then not outside restaurants. In the casino – presumably so gamblers can calm their nerves – it will be limited to passengers actually playing. Earlier this month it emerged that Carnival would also introduce a balcony ban, from October 9.

 


BA to lunch new Canaries service


Date: 23-Jul-2014

British Airways will start flying to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands on December 13. This will be the first time it has flown there for ten years, though it already operates to neighbouring Tenerife and Lanzarote. Flights will depart year round, twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
 

Canary Islands - photo courtesy of Canary Islands Tourism

Air NZ wins premium economy vote


Date: 22-Jul-2014

From small beginnings, premium economy has now become a widely available alternative for travellers who want a bit more comfort but baulk at the thought of paying business class fares. For the second year running, Air New Zealand’s premium economy has been voted the world’s best in the annual passenger poll by online are travel benchmarking specialist Skytrax. Qantas and Turkish Airlines came second and third respectively. Cathay Pacific was voted best airline overall. In the low cost category Norwegian, which has just launched flights to the US from Gatwick, came third behind AirAsia and its long haul arm Airsia X. The poll covers aspects of airline service from catering to staff performance.
 


Free chargers at Heathrow


Date: 21-Jul-2014

A symptom of the latest security scare at London’s busiest airport: Geronimo Inns are providing free chargers for electronic devices following the latest security scare. Passengers may now be deprived of their phones or other devices if they can’t be switched on at security checkpoints. Travellers visiting the Five Tuns in Terminal 5, the Three Bells in Terminal 3 and the Tin Goose in Terminal 1 will be able not only to charge their batteries but will have access to power points if they have their own chargers with them.
 

Heathrow Terminal 5

French home stays launched


Date: 19-Jul-2014

Fancy brushing up your French? Home stays with French families have been launched in the Mayenne area of the western Loire. Besides helping guests to extend their vocabularies and brush up their grammar the new “cultural immersion” programme, called Let’s Speak, includes visits to local bakers,for example, to learn how baguettes and flutes are made and trips to markets to gain insights into food production. A week’s stay costs €722.50 per person for full board, based on two people staying with the same family or €270 for a two day. One night stay. Visit www.letsspeak.net or call 0033 2 43026027.
 


Tunisia travel alert


Date: 18-Jul-2014

The Foreign Office has updated its advice to travellers heading for Tunisia, warning of a high threat from terrorism – including kidnapping. Listing recent attacks it says more cannot be ruled out “including in the coastal resorts”. The Tunisian Ministry of the Interior has warned of an increase in threats during the month of Ramadan and in the run up to elections scheduled to take place in October and November.
 


Airlines skirt Ukraine


Date: 18-Jul-2014

Flights are avoiding Ukraine airspace following yesterday’s Malaysian Airlines disaster. The Brussels based air traffic coordinating organization Eurocontrol said it had heard from the Ukrainian authorities that routes over the east of the country had been closed until further notice, and it was rejecting any flight plans which took aircraft there. It was clear that aviation safety authorities had not expected an aircraft to be downed by a missile while flying at such an altitude. Thai Airways, to quote one carrier, issued a statement today saying all its flights to and from Europe had been rerouted. British Airways said its flights were not using Ukrainian airspace save for services to and from Kiev. “We are keeping those services under review, but Kiev is several hundred kilometres from the incident site. Virgin Atlantic said it was “not currently flying over this air space.” A spokeswoman said any effect on flight times was likely to be minimal.
 


Dolomites hotel opens


Date: 17-Jul-2014

A new hotel with a wrap around infinity pool has opened above the Italian Dolomites resort of Ortisei. The Adler Mountain Lodge, formerly the Hotel Mezdi, is 1800 metres above sea level, in the middle of a ski piste. It has 18 suites in the main building and 12 two-storey chalets a little further up the slope. Guests are encouraged to leave their cars in Ortisei and take a ski lift up, while the hotel tansports their luggage. If visitors want to drive the Adler has to get them a permit, as the mountains around are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rates start at €207 per person per night, full board, including activities such as guided hiking and skiing – and yoga at sunset.
 

Adler Mountain Lodge

Free Wi-Fi at New York airports


Date: 16-Jul-2014

Passengers will soon be able to access the internet free at several New York airports, including John F Kennedy and Newark. An upgraded Wi-Fi system will allow up to 30 minutes us without charge. The move follows an agreement to revise the contract between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Boingo Wireless.
 


Street View installed on cruise ship


Date: 15-Jul-2014

Potential cruise customers can now “tour” Royal Caribbean’s ship Allure of the Seas using Google Street View. Following installation of the technology on board, they can see cabins, explore areas such as the Royal Promenade, which runs almost the length of the ship and is lined with restaurants, boutiques and lounges, go inside the restaurants and view facilities such as pools, the climbing wall and basketball court. Go to www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/royalview
 

Allure of the Seas

Scots to get Abu Dhabi flights


Date: 14-Jul-2014

Etihad Airways is to start flying between Edinburgh and its home base, Abu Dhabi. From June 8 next year it will operate daily, non stop services using A330-200 aircraft with 240 economy and 22 business class seats. Flights will depart from Scotland at 9.15am, arriving at 7.45pm. Departures from Abu Dhabi will be at 2.40am, reaching Edinburgh at 7.40am. The airline already flies to London and Manchester.
 


Colombia and Panama flights launched


Date: 11-Jul-2014

TAP Portugal has launched flights to the Colombian capital, Bogota, and Panama City from London. The airline is operating the route four times a week from Heathrow via Lisbon, on Mondays. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
 


Warehouse becomes hotel


Date: 10-Jul-2014

The red brick North Warehouse on Liverpool’s Stanley Dock has opened as a hotel. The Titanic Hotel is named in honour of the ship whose owners, the White Star Line, were based in the city. The line’s headquarters have already become a luxury hotel - 30 James Street – which opened recently. The Titanic promises 153 very large rooms and a spa with a pool and a gym.
 

The Titanic Hotel, Liverpool

Explore Hong Kong with a local


Date: 09-Jul-2014

Free tours guided by locals are now on offer in Hong Kong. Visitors can check in for a consultation with one of a team of volunteers calls Hong Kong Pals who – according to the tourist board - are “eager to share their passion and enthusiasm for the city.” For example you could look at buildings with an urban planner or eat out with a local foodie. You can book on line and meet the volunteers at the Hong Kong Tourism Board visitor centres in Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) or at the Peak (Hong Kong Island). Further information at http://goo.gl/hwoxbC.
 


More Stansted flights for Ryanair


Date: 08-Jul-2014

Ryanair is to launch 12 new routes from Stansted for next winter. The budget fare airline will operate to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Athens, Basle, Bordeaux, Bucharest, Cologne, Perpignan, Prague, Podgorica (Montenegro) and Skeleftea Swedish Lapland). And flights to Dublin from Prestwick will switch to Glasgow International.
 


Cote d’Azur’s new tourist card


Date: 07-Jul-2014

A new electronic tourist card has been launched, allowing free access to a huge range of attractions ands activities on and around the Cote d’Azur. It covers entrance, for example, to the Picasso, Renoir and Bonnard Museums, respectively in Antibes, Cagnes sur Mer and Le Cannet, and the International Museum of Perfumerie in Grasse. Also included in the list are various guided tours – among them an exploration of Cannes’ links with the cinema. For a complete run down visit www.coted’azur-card.com. It costs €39 per adult for three consecutive days or €54 for six days.
 

Cannes

New Dusseldorf flights


Date: 04-Jul-2014

Germanwings is to launch flights between Stansted and Dusseldorf – an excellent weekend break destination – on August 22. The airline will operate two round trips each weekday and one n Saturdays and Sundays.
 

Dusseldorf

Hawaii hiking holidays launched


Date: 03-Jul-2014

Walking holidays on Hawaii have been launched for next year by HF Holidays. The trips involve hopping between four islands - the Big Island, Oahu, Kauai and Maui. A variety of walks include one in the Volcanoes National Park and another through Kauai’s Waimea Canyon. Customers will also go stargazing with experts at the Mauna Kea observatory and take in some sightseeing. There will be three departures. The 11 night holidays cost £4099 including flights from Heathrow or £3159 for those making their own travel arrangements.
 

Hawaii

Docklands get Dublin link


Date: 02-Jul-2014

British Airways is to start flying to Dublin from London City Airport. From October 26 it will fly up to five round trips a day. The airline is also upping the number of flights it operates from the Docklands airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
 


Ferry link future in doubt


Date: 01-Jul-2014

Eurotunnel has been given six months to end its MyFerryLink service between Dover and Calais. Confirming its earlier ruling the Competition and Markets Authority said the service could continue if the tunnel operator found another, completely independent owner for MyFerryLink. Meanwhile MyFerryLink has said it will appeal against the ruling. Alisdair Smith, who chaired the Authority group investigating the case, said: “It remains our view that the current level of competition on the cross Channel route is unsustainable and likely to lead to the exit of a competitor”. That would leave Eurotunnel, “which is finding MyFerryLink’s current losses, as only one of two ferry operators in addition to owning the competing rail link”. MyFerryLink was set up two years ago after Groupe Eurotunnel acquired three ferries previously owned by SeaFrance.

 

MyFerryLink

Thai Airways Heathrow move delayed


Date: 30-Jun-2014

Thai Airways has postponed its move from Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to the airport’s newly opened Terminal 2, which was planned for July 2. The airline says the delay – until later this summer - will allow the new terminal’s baggage systems to undergo further trials “to ensure they work properly”.
 


New tour bus in service in Vilnius


Date: 27-Jun-2014

The Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, is offering a new hop on, hop off bus service. With 24 or 48hr tickets, the route has six stops near main tourist attractions and hotels. There’s also an audio guide service on board. Tickets, which can be bought on the bus, at the Vilnius City Tour agency or at the city’s tourist information centre, where you can also book a walking tour of the old town. They cost from around £11.50.
 


Severe weather museum opens


Date: 26-Jun-2014

Extreme Mount Washington, a museum providing insights into the notoriously severe weather experienced on the 6288ft summit in New Hampshire, has just opened after a $1 million re-build. It was there that the world’s highest wind observed by man speed was recorded in 1934 (a higher speed has since been recorded remotely). The anemometer used to measure that blast is among the other exhibits. Visitors can learn how rime ice forms and use simulator which allows them to “drive” a snowcat up a road to the summit. In favourable weather – generally May to October – you can drive, hike or take the cog railway to the top.
 


Zillertal golf course set to open


Date: 25-Jun-2014

The first golf course in Austria’s Zillertal is scheduled to open in Uderns on July 1. At 550 metres above sea level the 18 hole course covers an area of 65 acres. The complex will include practice areas, a golf school and a clubhouse. A four star hotel next to the course is planned to open in the Autumn.

Zillertal Golf Course

New hotel for Warsaw


Date: 24-Jun-2014

Warsaw has a new hotel. The 300 room Hampton by Hilton is close to the Polish capital’s main railway station and not far from heart of the old town, which was reconstructed after the Nazis blew it up. Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the property.
 


Stansted move for Cyprus Airways


Date: 23-Jun-2014

Cyprus Airways is to switch its Larnaca flights from Heathrow to Stansted from mid-September. The move follows the sale of the airline’s Heathrow take off and landing slots to American Airlines.
 

Cyprus

New river cruise guide


Date: 21-Jun-2014

A new guide which compares and rates European river cruise ships is now available. It’s been compiled by Douglas Ward, who has written the annual Berlitz guide to cruising at sea for the past 30 years. The new guide – Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe – costs £14.99.
 


Viking sites make “must see” list


Date: 20-Jun-2014

Lonely Planet has included Viking Denmark – and umbrella label for places linked with those fearsome old explorers – on its latest list of “must see” destinations in Europe. Others on the list include the Outer Hebrides and Plzen in the Czech Republic, birthplace of pilsner beer. On the Viking trail the guidebook publisher’s recommendations include visits to Roskilde, where five of their ships are displayed in the Viking Ship Museum, the Viking ship grave and museum on the island of Funen – and  the town of Ribe – founded around 700 as a Viking marketplace.
 

Viking Denmark

Richard III centre set to open


Date: 19-Jun-2014

Following the discovery of the much maligned monarch’s remains beneath a Leicester car park last year the King Richard III Visitor Centre is scheduled to open in the city on July 26. Titled “Dynasty, Death and Discovery” the exhibition will include a reconstruction of Richard’s face and a replica of his skeleton showing his injuries – among them the fatal blow – at the Battle of Bosworth. Timed tickets are available at www.kingrichardiiivisitorcentre.co.uk
 


Cruise and walk – single supplements axed


Date: 18-Jun-2014

Single supplements have been scrapped on some Ramblers cruise and walk holidays for customers prepared to book by the end of June. Departures on which the deal applies include sailings to Spain and the Baltic and around Britain and Ireland. The cruises are on Fred Olsen ships.
 

Silver ramblers

UK launch for Japan walking tours


Date: 17-Jun-2014

A travel company specialising in tours of Japan on foot is now selling holidays in the UK. Hong Kong based Walk Japan, which primarily appeals to travellers over 50, offers 11 itineraries of various lengths, including a six day circuit if Mount Fuji and an 11 day hike along the ancient Nakasendo Way - crowded in the 17th century with merchants, pilgrims and samurai - between Kyoto and Tokyo.
 


Spain: car hire firms under fire


Date: 15-Jun-2014

Car hire fuel “rip offs” in Spain have come under fire from Which? The watchdog organisation has teamed up with Spanish consumer group OCU to demand companies charge fair prices in line with those available at local garages – and stop requiring customers to pay for a full tank when they drive off – and failing to refund them for unused fuel when they return the car. Six out of 10 Which? Members said this so called “full-empty” policy was the only option available to them and 72% thought they had paid prices higher than those at local garages. Which? says that in many cases travellers hit by this practice are unable to use a tankful. Someone hiring a Fiat 500 in Mallorca, for example, would need to make the round trip from Palma airport to Puerto Pollenca nearly seven times. It commends Alamo, Enterprise and Autoreisen for operating a full-full policy, where customers are asked to return the car full so they don’t pay for unused fuel.

 


Quebec landmark hotel refurbished


Date: 14-Jun-2014

Quebec City’s landmark Chateau Frontenac hotel, which opened in 1893 and overlooks the St Lawrence river and the Plain of Abraham, which Wolfe defeated the French forces under Montcalm, has just emerged from a million refurbishment. The re-vamp encompassed all 611 rooms, public areas including the lobby and ballroom and a newly built spa.
 


Stroll along the prom – at sea


Date: 13-Jun-2014

Two new ships promising “sea level promenades” have been ordered by MSC Cruises. Passengers will be able to walk right around them, says the company, stopping, perhaps, at shops and restaurants on the way. The ships – project name “Seaside” -will also have terraced balconies and lifts with sea views. Costing around £570 million each and carrying up to 5300 passengers, they are scheduled for delivery in late 2017 and spring 2018.
 


Birmingham to get new Iceland link


Date: 12-Jun-2014

Icelandair is to launch flights between Birmingham and Reykjavik next year. From February 5 it will operate two round trips a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, using Boeing 757 aircraft.
 


Sightseeing at the double


Date: 11-Jun-2014

Cruising too sedentary for you? Crystal Cruises is now offering excursions on the run. Passengers are being invited to join guided 5-10 kilometre jogging tours of European port cities and beauty spots – along the canals of Amsterdam, for example, taking in some of the great sights of St Petersburg or setting off on paths by Loch Lomond. Reflective safety gear and refreshments are provided.
 


Provence farm is now luxury hotel


Date: 10-Jun-2014

A former farm in Provence has become a new five star hotel with its own golf course. Domaine de Manville sits in a valley beneath the medieval village of Les Baux in the Alpilles region. It has 30 rooms, 9 villas, a spa, pool and a restaurant on a 100 acre estate. Rooms can be booked through Small Luxury Hotels of the World. A double in mid-September, for example, costs around £260.
 

Domaine de Manville golf course

The Inca Trail in comfort


Date: 09-Jun-2014

If you can cope with the exercise and altitude, Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu can now be tackled in relative comfort. UK travel firm Exsus is offering trips in what it calls “VIP style” – with big tents, hot water bottles, hot showers, slippers and a turn down service. “Gourmet” meals come with “fine wines”. It goes without saying that all the gear is carried by porters. It’s even possible to book an accompanying masseuse – at an extra cost. The tour also includes a visit on horseback to the saltpans of Maras and travel on the Hiram Bingham train to Cusco. It costs from £5195, including flights, based on four people travelling.
 

Inca trail

New cheap flights from Gatwick planned


Date: 06-Jun-2014

Low cost airline Norwegian is to launch new flights from Gatwick to Berlin and Warsaw. Starting on September 15 it will operate six flights a week on both routes, promising fares starting at £29.90 and £34.90 respectively.
 


New wheelchair for air travellers


Date: 05-Jun-2014

A new wheelchair which can be stowed in an aircraft’s overhead locker has been developed by Staffordshire based manufacturer RGK. The TIGA fx is designed to fold front first. RGK, was founded by Russel Simms and Greg Eden, who met while playing wheelchair basketball for the Birmingham Bulls.
 


Kuoni launches Jaffna tours


Date: 04-Jun-2014

The return of tourism to Sri Lanka’s war ravaged Jaffna Peninsula has gathered pace with the news that leading long haul operator Kuoni is dipping a toe in the water there. It has been included in its new Indian Ocean and Arabia brochure (covering the period September 2014 – December 2015). Customers will spend two nights in the city of Jaffna during a new tour (Definitive Sri Lanka) with only two departure dates. Alternatively they can go there on a private car and driver itinerary. Accommodation is at the Jaffna Heritage hotel – which is vegetarian and doesn’t serve alcohol.
 

Jaffna Heritage Hotel

Heathrow’s reborn T2 opens


Date: 03-Jun-2014

A reminder that Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 – the Queen’s Terminal - opens on Wednesday 4th June. It will be home to 23 airlines belonging to the Star Alliance, which will move flights there over several months. Check when your airline transfers its operations there at www.heathrowairport.com/heathrow-airport-guide/terminal-2
 


Trips to see European bison “rewilding”


Date: 02-Jun-2014

Tour operator Wildlife Worldwide has launched trips to witness the reintroduction of the European bison to the Southern Carpathian mountains in Romania. The continent’s largest land mammal was hunted to extinction in the wild by 1927. But in mid-May 17 bison were taken to an acclimatisation zone in the remote Tarcu Mountain Reserve. Ten more will be introduced during the summer. In early September the first bison will be released into the wild, becoming the first to roam these mountains since the 18th century. One aim of the project is to create business opportunities for local people, some of whom have already been trained as rangers and guides. Though the trips will concentrate on the bison, customers will also learn about and go in search of other wildlife, including brown bears. The five day packages, take place between mid-June and September and cost from £1495 including flights.

Bison

Soho’s new hotel set to open


Date: 30-May-2014

A new luxury hotel with a bowling alley imported from Texas and a roof garden is set to open in London’s Soho next week. Ham Yard is on a pedestrian street connecting Great Windmill and Denman Streets. It has 91 rooms and suites, a spa with a gym and a hypoxic (low oxygen) chamber for altitude training. Developed by Firmdale Hotels it is part of a complex which also includes apartments and shops it also incorporates a theatre.

 


Birmingham to get new winter flights


Date: 29-May-2014

New flights from Birmingham to Hamburg and Oslo will take off this autumn. Regional airline Flybe will start daily services on both routes from October 26. The carrier has also announced it will fly year round from the airport to Reykjavik, Florence, Oporto, Cologne, Toulouse and Bordeaux - six of the new destinations it is operating this summer.
 


Cape Town tree walk opens


Date: 28-May-2014

A walkway through the tree canopy has opened in the arboretum at Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Known as the “boomslang”, it runs for 130 metres through trees such as hard pear, Cape saffron, wild stinkwood and myrtle quince. Initially controversial, the project was planned to mark last year’s centenary of the garden, which lies at the foot of Table Mountain’s east flank, but unforeseen construction problems delayed its opening.
 

Kirstenbosch Treetop Canopy Walk

Lufthansa’s legroom tempters


Date: 27-May-2014

Lufthansa is dangling special deals in its forthcoming new extra legroom cabin to tempt UK travellers to fly long haul via Frankfurt. Available of passengers departing from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Aberdeen they include a £909 return fare to Seoul, £949 to Hong Kong, £999 to Beijing, £1099 to Sao Paulo and £1199 to Buenos Aires. They can be booked until June 12 for travel between December 10, when the Premium Economy cabins are guaranteed to be available on all the airline’s new Boeing 747-8 aircraft -and March 28 next year. Besides providing greater legroom the new cabins will have wider seats and bigger entertainment screens. Passengers will be able to take twice as much free luggage as those in normal economy and will get an upgraded meal service.
 


Holiday scam alert


Date: 26-May-2014

Beware bogus holiday company websites displaying false “ATOL protected” logos, warns the Civil Aviation Authority. The ATOL (air travel organiser’s licence) scheme is designed to ensure consumers booking holidays by air don’t lose their money – and are brought home - if a travel firm goes bust. But the Authority has become aware of a number of bogus sites displaying unauthorised logos, operated from abroad and offering” unusually cheap deals”. Tell tale signs to look out for include the lack of an ATOL reference number* or address, a requirement to pay by bank transfer because there’s no means of paying on line – and being told the prices has increased after the initial deposit has been paid., It says: “A steady stream of duped holidaymakers have been in touch with the CAA and dozens more have contacted trading standards teams and police forces across the country.” Consumers are advised to make sure the logo has the required reference number and check via the CAA website that it belongs to a registered company.
*Our illustration shows zeros where the reference number should be.
 

Air Travel Organiser’s Licence

Free Doha tours on offer


Date: 25-May-2014

Travellers flying via Qatar, where a new international airport will open on May 27, are being offered free tours of the capital city, Doha with English speaking guides. The itinerary includes the Museum of Islamic Art and the Waqif souq. Tours take three hours and are available to passengers with stopovers between five and 12 hours. The new Hamad International airport will incorporate a retail gallery, two five star hotels, a spa and a mosque. It will have an initial capacity of 28m a year, rising eventually to 50m.
 


Manchester gets Charlotte flights


Date: 23-May-2014

Flights from Manchester to Charlotte, North Carolina, start on Friday May 23rd. Launched by American Airlines and operated daily by its merger partner US Airways, westbound services will depart at 2.25pm, arriving at 6.20pm. Flights from Charlotte will leave at 8.35pm, arriving at 9.30am next morning.
 


Spectacular new gondola opens


Date: 22-May-2014

British Columbia’s spectacular new Sea to Sky Gondola – about an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver – is now open. The ten minute ride to 885 metres provides sweeping views of Howe Sound, Shannon Falls and surrounding mountains. At the top visitors can take interpretive circular walking trails with viewing platforms en route. Adult day tickets cost CN$34.95 with a $2 discount for those aged 65+.
 

Sea to Sky viewing platform - photo courtesy of Paul Bride

BA to start new Gatwick sunshine services


Date: 21-May-2014

British Airways is to launch five new holiday routes from Gatwick from the end of April next year. The airline will start flights to Cagliari (Sardinia) Crete and Rhodes and two Turkish destinations – Bodrum and Dalaman.
 


Soulages gallery set to open


Date: 20-May-2014

The work of one of France’s most celebrated living painters will be on show in the city of his birth from May 24th. The new Musee Pierre Soulages in Rodez (Aveyron) will house 500 of his paintings and engravings. They will include his preparatory work for his famous stained glass windows at Conques abbey church. Around 1979 Soulages began working almost entirely in black and the museum’s opening exhibition (until October 5) will concentrate on this phase of his career.
 


Palio package launched


Date: 19-May-2014

A package combining seats at Siena’s Palio with a cookery class and a little hiking in the surrounding countryside is on offer from Hedonistic Hiking (www.hedonistichiking.com). The Palio is a spectacular horse race, which dates from the 17th century and is staged in the centre of the city. The trip starts on August 12. Prices start at £2130 for each of two sharing, including accommodation for six nights in a hotel, which was once a Carmelite convent and meals in various restaurants, with wine – but excluding air fares.
 


Luxury Jo’burg hotel set to re-open


Date: 19-May-2014

Bookings have opened for stays at the reborn Westclff Hotel in Johannesburg. Luxury hotel chain Four Seasons is taking reservations for arrivals from December 1. Formerly operated by Orient Express, the Westclff has been undergoing a major revamp, including the addition of five new restaurants and a spa with an infinity pool. The hotel has 117 guest rooms and suites set in landscaped gardens.
 


Open day at Trinity House


Date: 16-May-2014

It’s 500 years this month since Henry VIII granted a Royal Charter to a fraternity of mariners known as the Guild of the Holy Trinity “so that they might regulate the pilotage of ships in the King’s streams”. To mark the anniversary, Trinity House, built in 1794 and home of the corporation, which evolved from that fraternity, is holding a rare open day on Saturday (May 17, 10am – 3pm). The corporation is responsible for pilotage at major ports – and lighthouses. Expert guides will show visitors around the house, which is close to the Tower of London and whose elegant rooms contain valuable paintings, antiques and – among its artefacts – the bell from the decommissioned Royal Yacht Britannia.
 

Trinity House

Mental health museum re-opens


Date: 15-May-2014

With a collection ranging from padded cells to straitjackets, the newly refurbished Museum of Mental Health has opened in Wakefield. Managed by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and housed in a building once known as West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, it sets out to combat social injustice and prejudice towards the mentally ill through education. It looks at the way care has changed since the early 19th century.
 


Strong demand for child free flights – survey finds


Date: 14-May-2014

More than a third  (35%) of air travellers on leisure trips claim they would pay extra to travel on a child free flight, according to research by LateDeals.co.uk. And 70% think airlines should provide child free zones on their aircraft. It goes without saying that both percentages would be far lower if all travellers with families were included but the findings are likely to reflect the views of many Silver Travel Advisor readers. Customers of LateDeals.com who said they would pay a premium to avoid crying babies and seat back kicking claimed they would be prepared to fork out an extra £28 or £63 respectively on short and long haul return flights.
 


Online blackmail threat growing – claims hospitality chief


Date: 13-May-2014

Hotel guests and restaurant customers are increasingly threatening to post bad reviews on TripAdvisor in an effort to extort “freebies”, according to Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association. While it’s very difficult to put an exact figure on how widespread the problem is, it is clear that there is a small minority of online reviewers who are either directly or indirectly blackmailing hotels and restaurants for their own gain. Even just one or two bad reviews can have huge consequences for a business’s reputation. For example, people may attempt to blackmail during the meal. While it can be difficult to prove that somebody has held your business to ransom in this way, we would advise that business owners do not respond – or make free offers – to reviewers they suspect are malicious. I would ask hospitality business owners to contact TripAdvisor or the British Hospitality Association if they are concerned about malicious reviews.

 


Free tours launched for Ghent tourists


Date: 12-May-2014

Visitors to Ghent are now being offered free guided tours of the Belgian city at weekends. The Saturday tour, which takes 90 minutes, covers the historic centre between the Scheldt and Lys rivers, while those on Sundays concentrate on a particular quarter or theme. Among the latter is a look back at life in Ghent during the First World War. Though there is no charge, the independent organisers - iTours - point out that “your donation is welcome”. Details at www.itours.be/tours/free-tours/.
 

Ghent

Cambridge gets new flights


Date: 09-May-2014

CityJet is to launch flights from Cambridge to Amsterdam and Dublin next week. From May 12 it will operate two round trips each weekday and one a day at weekends on both routes, using a 50 seat Fokker 50 turboprop. Cambridge recently lost a link with Amsterdam when Etihad Regional dropped the route.
 

CityJet 50-seat Fokker

Mountain hotel opens in Oman


Date: 08-May-2014

A dramatically situated hotel opens this week in the mountains of Oman. While the country’s best known hotels are luxury developments on the coast, Alila Jabal Akhdar overlooks a spectacular gorge in the Al Hajar range, a fruit growing area with excellent, if rugged, hiking. Perched at 200 metres, it has 78 suites and villas in clusters, spaced out on the cliff top, and a pool. An opening two night deal for two people, valid until the end of May, starts at around £460, including breakfast, dinner on one night – and a “rose bath” in your room.
 


New Midlands walking trail set to open


Date: 07-May-2014

A new long distance footpath opens in the Midlands on May 17. The National Forest Way, which has been five years in the making, runs for 75 miles from Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum to Leicestershire’s Beacon Hill Country Park. It is split into 12 stages, with information leaflets available for each one. It takes in young and ancient woodland, market towns and the region’s industrial heritage.
 


Harwich-Esbjerg ferries face axe


Date: 06-May-2014

Ferry operator DFDS has confirmed that its service between Harwich and Esbjerg in Denmark will be axed at the end of September. Direct crossings started as long ago as 1875. The firm says the route “has been struggling for some time with high costs, loss of passengers and freight being switched to road transport”. It has been working to make savings but says they have not been sufficient to match the extra costs of new sulphur emission limits, which come into force on January 1 next year. The route will close on September 29.
 






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